Reports of Bed Bugs in Hospitals are on the rise nationally as well as in some of our local communities. This pest has increasingly been found in hospitals, hotels and department stores alike. Unfortunately, hospitals are in many ways, very similar to hotels. Both hotels and hospitals have a frequent turnover rate in their patients and guest levels. They also patronize to frequent visitors and share close sleeping quarters. And bed bugs travel very well! In essence, the hospital environment is capable of allowing a perfect habitat for a bed bug to thrive and flourish in, if left unchecked. The more frequent dialogue among “bed bugs in hospitals” has been a common theme of bed bugs hitching a ride via the patient. As reports of bed bugs in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities continue to increase, there are a few things that you can do to be more pro-active in dealing with Bed Bugs in Hospitals.
Please enjoy this short video on bed bugs in hospitals, hotels and more!
Hospitals fighting back to Neutralize Bed Bugs?
It is standard operating procedure for hospitals to ask for your name, age, birth date and health insurance coverage. However, some hospitals are making it their new bed bug policy to ask patients if they have been exposed to bed bugs and or bitten by this nasty pest. This has become common procedure for handling bed bugs in hospitals as part of their per-entry screening questionnaire. Two medical centers in Vermont – the Central Vermont medical Center in Berlin and Fletcher Allen Medical Center in Burlington – have developed a new set of procedures to prevent any bed bug threat from a possible infestation of their hospital and ER rooms.
The new bed bug policy for hospital bed bug prevention are often posted at the registration desk. They require patients to speak with hospital staff about any “bed bug encounters” or “bed bug bites” that they may have on their person or by another family relative in which they share housing. They will not be able to bring any unprotected luggage items, backpacks and personal pillows in to the facility as well. Any personal belongings will be double-bagged as a further act of prevention.
Recently passed legislation (25 August, 2011) in New Jersey’s 30th Legislative District and sponsored by Senator Robert W. Singer, will require health care and residential facilities alike to have a bedbug maintenance/service program in place with per-designed protocols and a licensed pest control professional on board with each facility’s program.
This new law will apply to hospitals, assisted living facilities and personal care homes. Nursing homes, boarding homes, emergency shelters and lodgings for the homeless are included along with residential care facilities for the youth.
The Senator is noted as saying “Any facility where people stay overnight should have a plan in place, ready to be carried out at a moments notice should bedbugs be discovered,” and “senior citizens, hospital patients and tourists throughout New Jersey all have a right to know that the bed they are sleeping in is clean, safe and free of bedbugs.”
This is great news for New Jersey residents and visitors alike! However, as laws go this is only a blueprint for success. The best protocols in the world are worthless unless they are executed properly. Bed bug awareness is a good place to begin to educate ourselves in how this pest travels, where it lives, feeds and breeds and …, you get the point.
Challenges for Hospital staff and Controlling Bed Bugs
DIY Exterminator Dude
One of the many bed bug challenges that hospitals and their staff face while attempting to cope with Bed Bugs in Hospitals is getting around using chemical-based solutions. It is extremely difficult for hospitals, nursing homes or other comprehensive patient need facilities to treat infestations due to the patients condition on being transferred from one location to another. Many patients are on oxygen and/or may be dependent of any number of life-support systems. It many instances, each and every hospital setting is unique to its own issues while attempting to be proactive in its war against bed bugs in hospitals. It is simply not practical to quarantine any section of a medical center to provide a chemical-based solution for a crack/crevice treatment and especially any form of aerosol or fumigation type treatments.
Bed bugs are extremely small and nocturnal. This pest will infest the bed, the box-spring and its headboard alike. It will also thrive and breed in any nearby furniture, wall-sockets or even pictures that are in relative proximity and ease in which to travel and feed upon its victims.
Many states have issued specific guidelines for school administrations to follow when dealing with bed bugs in hospitals and their respective communities. However, there are many more that – unlike New Jersey’s 30th Legislative District – have not issued such protocols for their hospitals to follow. Therefore, many hospitals have created their own bed bug maintenance programs to include the use of highly trained dogs to pinpoint a bed bugs location and/or any bed bug harboring areas. After discovery of any bed bug activity and highly dependent on the location, then a number of different eradication methodologies can be exercised.
Bed Bug Traps and Steam Treatments for Bed Bugs in Hospitals
Bed Bug Proof Fabric Laundry Bag
The situation may call for a more patient/eco-friendly and certainly more cost-efficient, dry vapor steam-treatment of the infected area. All personal belongings will have to be double-bagged or secured in a bed bug proof laundry bag before transferring to a neutral environment for proper disposal or individual steam cleaning and/or hot water/dry treatments. All furniture items to include draperies and bedding materials will have have to be discarded, steam-cleaned or super-heated by outside resources available.
Many administrations are hiring their pest control professionals to chemically treat the affected areas using approved pesticides that offer extended protection against re-infestation and having their environmental service staff clean the area accordingly. Chemical treatments for bed bugs in hospitals require a very strict adherence to “label application/protocols”, can be cost-effective when compared to super-heated treatments and can be very effective. However, they can require a lengthy time table, depending on size and scope of infestation and are tediously, labor intensive.
Depending on the severity of a bed bug issue in any given medical or health care facility, some administrations are supplying their environmental/maintenance staffs with the necessary protocols and training to handle and chemically treat small bed bug sightings themselves. Again, this is a very cost effective measure to chemically treat a small bed bug issue. Perhaps the sighting was in a laundry room or a day/sitting room in a convalescent center. These types of areas to be chemically treated would not necessarily be as intrusive upon any guests or patients as any bed bug activity reported in a patients room would incur.
Some of the residents may require oxygen. Read the label before applying any pesticides in the vicinity of these residents! Cats, birds and/or fish are often found in assisted living facilities among their guests and are extremely sensitive to chemical applications of pesticides as well. Therefore, it is imperative to always follow the label’s directions before applying any pesticides in this setting.
Bed Bug Alert Passive Monitor
Bed Bug carbon dioxide traps and passive bed bug monitors have proven their worth and are also a cost-effective measure to being pro-active when dealing with any bed bug activity, both small and large. Bed bug monitoring systems and traps, both passive and active, are aggressively being implemented by many hospital administrations across this nation. This positive approach is Eco-friendly and compliments the hospital’s ongoing bed bug programs to ensure that a successful eradication has taken place and/or to monitor any bed bugs in the general area before allowing the patients back to their rooms.
In my next post, I will offer you more tips on what you can do for yourself as well as your family before being admitted or admitting a loved one to a hospital. I will briefly cover any correlation between bed bugs and hospitals and any connection with the MRSA or VRE virus. Also of note, is there some good news on the horizon for Bed Bugs in Hospitals as well as the entire hotel/motel and travel industry? I’ll let you know and hope to see you soon!
If you have enjoyed this article featuring bed bug prevention in hospitals and what this pest may mean to you and your family, then give us a Like or a brief Shout-Out! Hopefully, this will assist you and others during any convalescent stay away from home in keeping you and your home, Bed Bug Free.